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The Brain in Middle World

This is part 2 of 5 in the series Brain - Time - Music - Computing.
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Even though perpetual contingency characterizes Middle World, the underlying dynamics are not random. On the contrary, their complexity thinly veils a rich variety of spatio-temporal patterns [4]. The term pattern, here, denotes “a regular and intelligible form or sequence discernible in certain actions or situations; esp. one on which the prediction of successive or future events may be based” (Oxford English Dictionary). Under such conditions, the brain has evolved into a highly effective spatio-temporal pattern detection and prediction system [2]. Moreover, the brain exhibits an “infovorous” behavior [1]: it craves for new experiences. More specifically, studies have linked sensory novelty and surprise to pleasure and reward activity in the brain. This is consistent with the continuous refinement of the prediction system through acquisition of new knowledge.

Both the crea…

Middle World

This is part 1 of 5 in the series Brain - Time - Music - Computing.
Next: The Brain in Middle World

Dawkins remarks that brains have evolved to help animals survive within the orders of magnitude of size and speed at which their bodies operate. He calls Middle World (MW) this relatively narrow range of phenomena directly and intuitively accessible to perceptual and cognitive processes [2]. Dawkins invokes the human brain’s evolutionary entanglement with MW to explain humans' difficulty in grasping, and coping with, the physical realities of the universe outside of its familiar confines, from the sub-atomic scales of quantum physics to the universe-size scales of relativity. But the fundamental properties of MW can also help characterize the nature of the tasks at which brains came to excel, in particular the fundamentally dynamic nature of these tasks.

Everything in MW is subject to what the human brain perceives and understands as time, “the continuum of experience in which events p…

Brain - Time - Music - Computing

The next 5 posts are excerpts from a chapter, titled "Time and Perception in Music and Computation," which appears in the book New Computational Paradigms for Computer Music, pp.125-146.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines music as “the art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds to produce beauty of form, harmony, melody, rhythm, expressive content, etc.” Composers and performers of music invent and produce sounds, carefully organized with the intent and purpose to trigger emotional responses from the listeners, usually humans. Creating music therefore involves deep understanding and mastery, whether intuitive of explicit, of the human auditory perceptual and cognitive apparatus.

A reflexion on the nature of the phenomena involved points towards the ability of the mind to move in and out of flows of time, real or imaginary, as a defining feature of perceptual and cognitive activities. A comprehensive computational paradigm for computer music must afford the modeli…